The founders of both startups were accepted into the 2012 Melbourne Accelerator Program run by the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering; and last week became the only two (out of 10) to be funded by the Optus Innov8 Seed Program.
Venuemob, as the name suggests, helps find the best venue for any occasion from weddings to conferences; and 121cast is developing personalised radio, taking advantage of advances in text-to-voice technologies.
Each of the two companies will get up to $250,000 in what pre-Series A round funding; three months of free space, a whole lot of mentoring and a lot of free communications technology such as mobile phones, thanks to Optus-Innov8’s partner, SingTel, Singapore’s leading telecom company.
“There were a range of factors that influenced our decision to invest in both startups, but in summary the key factors related to the founding team, the strategic fit between their respective offerings and our ability to materially impact their growth, both in Australia and across the South East Asia Pacific region,” Optus-Innov8 said in a blog.
The Optus Innov8 Seed Program is a collaboration between Optus and SingTel Innov8. Also participating in this round of funding was Adventure Capital’s fund, the Digital Accelerator LP, is a super-angel style venture fund. Optus Innov8’s portfolio companies include Baynote, StreamMedia, 2359 Media, BubbleNote and MassiveImpact.
“The investment will allow us to expand our team, so we get an even more in-depth idea of which venues are the best function venues,” Ying Wang, a co-founder of Venuemob, told Anthill. “At the same time, we will be able to help our users find the best places, starting in Melbourne, then Sydney and beyond.”
Venuemob was started by a trio that believes in the motto, “work hard, play hard.” Ying and David Wei previously started an online group buying and later also worked with Groupon. The third, James Giang, runs the Android Australia User Group and is part of Melbourne’s developer community. He has worked at Telstra, besides founding his own development firm.
121cast’s vision for personalised audio is similar to Capsule.fm, Berlin startup co-founded by Danielle Reid, of Vermont, Victoria. Its vision is to be the “radio station” of choice for “smartphone owners with an intelligent and contextual audio stream to compliment the busy lifestyle and heavy information consumption of the modern professional.”
“It has been a very exciting journey since we founded the startup in February and launching SoundGecko in July” at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference, said Andrew Armstrong, a co-founder and lead developer of 121cast. “Now with the strategic investment and support of Optus and SingTel, we aim to accelerate our development roadmap and reach across Asia Pacific.”
Peter Huynh, lead principal of Optus-Innov8 Seed Program called Armstrong and his two co-founders – Ed Hooper and Long Zheg – “great engineers and great hustlers.”
121cast plans to use the funds raised to expand its team and accelerate development of its personal radio product.